The Trump-Pence platform lacks harmony

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, points toward Republican vice presidential candidate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence after Pence's acceptance speech during the third day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Wednesday, July 20, 2016.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, points toward Republican vice presidential candidate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence after Pence's acceptance speech during the third day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Wednesday, July 20, 2016. AP

Long before Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, R, faces off with Sen. Tim Kaine, D, on Tuesday for the first and only vice presidential debate, Pence has already been engaged in a sort of public debate — with his running mate.

The two seem to be running two parallel campaigns, often with totally opposite points of view. Occasionally Donald Trump comes around to Pence's, occasionally Pence comes arounds to Trump's. But the two men's differences in style and substance is stark.

There are a few things going on here: Pence and Trump are two totally different men in biography and temperament. And Pence, a social conservative, has spent his career advocating policies that his presidential nominee hasn't, from religious freedom to signing some of the nation's most stringent anti-abortion laws. Plus, Trump is a unique politician who doesn't fit any previous mold.

Here are nearly a dozen positions Trump has advocated that Pence hasn't. And vice versa.

Tax returns

What Trump said: Trump began 2016 by saying aides were at work preparing his tax returns for public release. Later, he said he couldn't release them because he was being audited by the IRS, and his lawyers had advised against it. Even after news from The New York Times that Trump could have gone 18 years without paying federal income taxes, Trump has given no indication he'll release them.

What Pence said: On Sept. 8, he released 10 years of tax returns.

"These tax returns clearly show that Mike and Karen Pence have paid their taxes, supported worthy causes, and, unlike the Clintons, the Pences have not profited from their years in public service," Pence press secretary Marc Lotter said in a statement.

President Obama's birthplace

What Trump said: Trump was one of the leaders of a fringe movement to question whether Obama was really born in the United States and, thus, whether he could serve as president. The Washington Post's Jenna Johnson noted that Trump has never apologized or admitted error, only briefly saying in a press conference in September he believes Obama is born in the United States.

What Pence said: He has never questioned that Obama was born in Hawaii.

Tweet: "Well, I believe, I believe Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. I accept his birthplace."

Free trade

What Trump said: He's not a fan. His opposition to current and negotiated trade agreements is a cornerstone of his campaign.

The incompetence of our current administration is beyond comprehension. TPP is a terrible deal.

What Pence has said: The opposite.

Trade means jobs, but trade also means security. The time has come for all of us to urge the swift adoption of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Then again, shortly after joining the ticket, Pence told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham he's open to questioning "the wisdom" of free trade deals.

"With the TPP, you know, it feels a little bit like Obamacare," he said.

The Iraq War

What Trump has said: Despite all evidence to the contrary, Trump continues to say he opposed the invasion in Iraq before it happened, most recently at the debate with Clinton on Sept. 26:

CLINTON: Donald supported the invasion of Iraq.

What Pence has said: He voted to go to war in Iraq. After being picked as Trump's running mate, he sidestepped a question by Fox News's Sean Hannity about the invasion of Iraq.

"I think that's for historians to debate," he said.

For what it's worth, Trump told CBS's Lesley Stahl in an interview in July that he "didn't care" about Pence's support for the war: "It's a long time ago. And he voted that way, and they were also misled."

The Affordable Care Act

Trump says he's against it, and wants to replace it. So does Pence — but he signed on to a version of Medicaid expansion offered under it.

A Muslim immigration ban

Trump still stands by his plan to temporarily bar many Muslims from entering the United States, now with varying descriptions — though few details — on which nations would be affected by the ban, and exactly how it would work.

Meanwhile, Pence tweeted this months before he joined the ticket:

“Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.”

He hasn't deleted it.


What Trump has said: During a town hall interview in April, Trump — who over the years has been both a supporter and an opponent of abortion laws — said that there had to be "some form of punishment" for women who had abortions if they were banned nationwide.

What Pence has said: The office of the staunchly (and consistently) anti-abortion governor released a statement weighing in on Trump's remarks well before he became Trump's running mate simply saying: "Governor Pence does not agree with the statement made by Donald Trump."

Gay rights

What Trump said: "As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology," Trump said during his nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.

After the audience applauded, he added: "I must say, as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said. Thank you." He also said, during the controversy over North Carolina's law that said people were only permitted access to the gender-specific bathroom that corresponded to the gender they were born with, that people should "use the bathroom they feel is appropriate."

What Pence has said: Pence doesn't disagree with Trump that gay people shouldn't be targeted because of their sexual orientation. But to the gay community, he is the face of state laws they think are designed to discriminate against them, signing a controversial religious freedom bill in 2015.

Convergence note: Both he and Trump have said they are personally opposed to same-sex marriage, but they say states should be able to make their own decisions about LGBTQ laws.


What Pence said: "I don't think name-calling has any place in public life," he told Hewitt late last month.

What Trump said: What hasn't he said? There's too much to link to, because we're talking about virtually every speech and interview since the start of his campaign. Here's a shortlist of some of the ways he's described Clinton: "Crooked Hillary." "Founder of ISIS." "The devil."